The practice of testing cosmetics and hygiene products on animals looks like an old barbarism, at least in Europe. The truth, as usual, is much more complicated than this and we want to make some clarity about it. Some times ago I read a witty slogan which recites: nobody likes what is going on but “in order to change things, first we need to know them”.
In 2013 the UE Parliament banned completely products tested on animals, even in the case such tests were carried out in countries not belonging to the Union. In 2018 then, UE has started collaborating with ONU to bring the law world wide. The deadline is 2023. This is indeed the only way to put an end to a dated and absolutely useless practice, which can easily be substituted with many modern options. It is true that, in Europe, we can buy without guilt, but animal testing is still common in many other foreign countries. It is especially important to understand that we are all, potentially, part of this cruel system.
Some of the big names we buy in our supermarkets and shops act in accordance to the European law but, in order to sell their precuts in foreign markets, they are willing to compromise. The Chinese government, for instance, still requires animal tests as warranty on some products and many companies accept to sacrifice part of their ethic to make (big) money abroad. Some of them try to justify their actions saying that their presence in such foreign markets is the easiest way to raise awareness and push for a change. Even if the idea seems coherent on paper, it seems to us a big excuse.
It is pretty hard to chose between companies: we have today a huge number of possibilities, while communication is not always transparent as it should be. On the contrary, messages are meant to be misleading. Starting from the label. “Not tested on animals”, “Clinically tested” or again “dermatologically tested” are not specific informations. Most of the time they refer to the final product only and, as a consequence, they cannot be considered sufficient.
Our suggestion is to rely on small and local business where possible, which, due to their limited expansion, are more reliable and offer direct informations. To produce on a small scale also means to have more control over the process, its steps, raw materials and employees. And, if the price is a bit higher, it is also worth because it is symbol of quality and integrity.
Weather speaking about niche products or corporations known worldwide, the best thing to do is always to consult the so called positive list. They are easy to be found on Internet, periodically updates by trustworthy institutions and organizations. PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animal) is the most famous one. On its website there are lists and additional informations on both “clean” brands and the ones still involved (somewhere in the world) in animal testing. It also has a list for companies in transit, which means the ones working on their process in order to solve the problem. A very easy tool to use id the Bunny Free app, where you can search for brands’ names and have instantly the list they belong to. Either way, PETA’s partners always have the logo on their packaging and are thus easily recognisable.
Together with PETA some other associations, more or less local, work in the same direction, checking companies and giving them certification on their operations. NatureWatch works in the UK; ICEA (Istituto per la Certificazione Etica e Ambientale) and LAV (Lega Anti Vivisezione) are the Italian ones. And also, the Cruelty Free International operates on many territories and its symbol is the Leaping Bunny.
Our responsibility as consumers is priceless, because our purchasing power is the final discriminator for the market trend. To eliminate, as much as possible, brands involved in animal testing is a duty we all share. It can send a very powerful message to corporates. And let’s be honest, most of the time the only obstacle to our actions is laziness only. Let’s try not to undervalue our potential.